How to Plant Alcea Bulbs for Beautiful Hollyhock Flowers

Growing hollyhocks in a sunny garden makes a statement. Beautiful blooms may tower up to 9 feet (2 m. ) tall and can be used as an old-fashioned focal point in a garden bed. Large blooms are long-lasting when planted correctly. Planting hollyhock roots is the best way to start this large and attractive flower.

Alcea, commonly known as hollyhocks, are popular cottage garden flowers that can grow up to 9 feet tall. Their showy, ruffled blooms come in a variety of colors like pink, red, yellow, white and more Hollyhocks make great background plants in borders or look striking when planted in a row While they can be grown from seed, the easiest way to get abundant hollyhock flowers is by planting alcea bulbs. Here’s a complete guide on how to plant alcea bulbs for success.

When to Plant Alcea Bulbs

The optimal time to plant alcea bulbs is in early spring after the last frost date. This gives the bulbs time to establish roots before summer heat arrives. Fall planting of dormant bulbs is another option, but spring planting tends to be more successful.

If planting in fall, get bulbs in the ground 8-10 weeks before the first expected frost. This allows some top growth to emerge before the bulbs go dormant for winter. Apply mulch over the bulbs after the ground freezes to insulate roots.

Where to Plant Alcea Bulbs

Hollyhocks thrive in full sun locations with fertile, well-drained soil. They need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Morning sun is ideal as it dries dew from leaves, preventing disease.

Give hollyhocks shelter from strong winds, which can damage the tall flower stalks. Plant near fences, trellises or shrubs to provide windbreaks.

For best growth, amend heavy clay or sandy soils with compost before planting. Work organic matter to a depth of 12-18 inches to accommodate the long taproots.

How to Plant Alcea Bulbs

Follow these simple steps for planting alcea bulbs

  1. Loosen soil and mix in compost where bulbs will be planted. Rake smooth.

  2. Dig holes 12-18 inches wide and deep. Space holes 18-24 inches apart in rows or groups.

  3. Place a small mound of soil in the bottom of each hole Position 1-2 bulbs on the mound with tips facing up Roots should drape down the sides.

  4. Backfill holes with soil, covering bulbs 1-2 inches deep. Tamp gently and water well.

  5. Consider temporarily covering bulbs with cloches, tunnels or boxes to protect from frost. Remove once sprouts emerge.

  6. Apply 2-3 inches of mulch around bulbs to conserve moisture and suppress weeds. Replenish as needed.

  7. Water bulbs regularly if rainfall is lacking. About 1 inch per week is sufficient.

Caring for Hollyhocks Grown from Bulbs

Proper care will keep hollyhock bulbs healthy and flowering over a long season:

  • Stake tall plants once they reach 2-3 feet to prevent toppling in wind or storms. Use bamboo, metal or wooden stakes.

  • Prune spent flower stalks back to a leaf node to encourage reblooming. Leave some stalks for seed production.

  • Monitor for common hollyhock pests like Japanese beetles, aphids and caterpillars. Use organic treatments if needed.

  • Scout for diseases like rust or powdery mildew. Improve airflow and avoid overhead watering to reduce disease.

  • Cut back stems to 6 inches in fall after a hard frost. Mulch bulbs heavily for winter protection.

  • Divide bulbs every 2-3 years in spring to control spread. Replant the healthiest bulbs and compost the rest.

Troubleshooting Common Hollyhock Problems

Hollyhocks are generally easy to grow but can be affected by some issues:

  • Flopping stems: Stake tall varieties and site in protected areas to prevent wind damage.

  • Rust fungus: Improve drainage and air circulation. Remove and destroy affected leaves.

  • Anthracnose: Avoid overhead watering. Improve spacing for good airflow.

  • Slugs and snails: Remove debris where they hide. Use organic baits or copper barriers. Handpick at night.

  • Poor flowering: Ensure bulbs get full sun. Pinch back tips to encourage bushy growth.

  • Rotting bulbs: Plant in well-draining soil. Allow soil to dry between waterings.

Extending the Hollyhock Season

With proper care, hollyhocks grown from bulbs will bloom spring through fall:

  • Deadhead spent blooms to encourage reblooming. Leave some for seed saving.

  • Stake and prune plants as needed to support growth and promote new flowers.

  • Apply balanced organic fertilizer monthly during the growing season.

  • Keep plants consistently watered. Mulch to conserve moisture.

  • In very hot climates, provide afternoon shade for cooler root zone.

Planting alcea bulbs is an easy way to grow stately, long-blooming hollyhock flowers. Give them a spot in full sun with rich soil and watch them thrive!

About Hollyhock Bare Root Plants

Bare root plants that are healthy are not as likely to get the dreaded rust disease as plants that were started in other ways. Hollyhocks grown from seeds or cuttings are often weaker at first and are more likely to get rust disease, which is a problem for people who have grown hollyhocks for a long time. Plants grown from seed may not be true to the parent plant either.

More than 60 species of bare-root hollyhock plants are available. Hollyhock plants are biennials or short-lived perennials. When you start some plants from bare roots, they don’t bloom until the second year. But you should see leaf growth the first year. Most hollyhock plants are of the Alcea species, of the family Malvaceae.

How to Grow Bare Root Hollyhocks

Learning how to grow bare root hollyhocks is a challenge for some. But if you do a few simple things, you’ll have lots of pretty flowers from hollyhocks and other bare root plants. When purchasing bare root plants, keep a few things in mind.

Buy firm, healthy roots without blemishes. Soft spots or mildew can indicate a diseased specimen. Bare root plants should not be broken. If youve bought bare roots with any of these problems, follow the instructions below before planting.

Bare root hollyhock plants usually come in plastic packaging protected by peat moss or sawdust. Remove the fleshy roots from the bag and lightly shake off the protective material. Trim any damage from the roots, such as mold or breakage. People often think that bare root hollyhock plants are dry, so give them a 10-minute soak in water to bring them back to life. They may also be soaked overnight, but dont leave them in water long enough to get soft.

Plant hollyhock roots in a prepared hole in the right location. As long as the hole is deep enough and wider than the roots, bare root hollyhock plants can easily grow a long taproot that goes down.

How To Plant Bare Root Hollyhocks // It’s super simple


When should I plant hollyhocks bulbs?

In the spring, wait to plant until after the threat of frost has passed, and in the fall, plant your hollyhocks before the ground is frozen. Be patient when planting, especially if you’re growing hollyhock from seeds. Many of the most common varieties are biennials.

What is the best way to plant hollyhocks?

Seeds can be sown directly outdoors about a week before last frost. Sow at just ¼ inch deep and about 2 feet apart. Hollyhocks have long taproots, so if seeds are started indoors, use tall, individual pots and transplant early to avoid damage. Start indoor seeds about 9 weeks before the last average frost date.

Will hollyhock roots bloom the first year?

Hollyhock plants are biennials or short-lived perennials. Some do not bloom until the second year after starting bare-root plants, but you should see foliage growth the first year.

What to do with Alcea rosea HollyHock?

Alcea rosea (common hollyhock). At the end of the season, you will want to cut the plants to the ground. Clean up and discard all plant debris in the fall to minimize or avoid rust or remove infected plants completely and start new ones in a different location.

Is Alcea rosea a perennial?

Alcea rosea ‘Blacknight’: A striking single to semi-double flower almost black hollyhock. This cultivar is a true perennial rather than a biennial variety. Because these plants grow easily from seed, most gardeners stick with this method.

Does Alcea rosea spread?

Most of the old-fashioned types ( Alcea rosea) are biennial: They produce foliage in the first year, then flower and self-seed before dying in the second. Once established, the plants perform like perennials, setting seed year after year. Due to their self-seeding properties, they may appear to spread, but, in actuality, they do not spread at all.

Is Alcea rosea A hollyhock?

Alcea rosea ‘Chater’s Double’: A common hollyhock cultivar, this beautiful double-flowered variety comes in many shades and blooms right through the summer. Alcea rosea ‘Blacknight’: A striking single to semi-double flower almost black hollyhock. This cultivar is a true perennial rather than a biennial variety.

Leave a Comment